There'll be something missing from the pregame and halftime experience at Davis Wade Stadium this football season, at least to start the year.
As part of new guidelines announced by the Southeastern Conference on Friday, Mississippi State's Famous Maroon Band (and all SEC bands) will be restricted from playing on the field before the game and at halftime. Also, visiting team bands and spirit squads won't be allowed to attend games. The SEC says the policy could be revised during the year based on developments around COVID-19.
The news is of course no surprise to the MSU band. Associate director Craig Aarhus talked about the upcoming season with Cowbell Corner last month and discussed how the Famous Maroon Band would be ready for anything.
"If we have to look at different ways of being creative and generating some unique performance opportunities that we haven’t done in the past, we’ll do that," Aarhus said at the time. "We’re not going to just shut down. If for some reason we’re not allowed to perform on the field, we will still be involved in the best way we possibly can because the band is important to our kids. It’s important to our school and it’s important to the game day and the team environment. We want to keep trying to be a part of that as best we can, even if it looks a little bit different."
Home team bands will be allowed to be in the stands, though it's currently unclear how many band members will be allowed each game.
Restrictions on bands were just part of what all the SEC announced Friday. Here is the full release from the league outlining who will be allowed on the field, further ticketing procedures, media operations and more:
The Southeastern Conference has announced a number of game operations guidelines for its 14 member schools, following up on its initial medical protocols and fan guidelines announced earlier this month, as the Conference continues to monitor developments around the COVID-19 virus.
“The health of those around SEC athletics events remains in focus and, following advice of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force, we continue to develop policies intended to provide a healthy return to competition,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “Some of these are difficult decisions but are a reality of our circumstances, and we will continue to develop and refine policies as we monitor issues related to COVID-19.”
ESSENTIAL ON-FIELD PERSONNEL
Essential personnel shall be the only individuals who have game day access to field and sideline, to include student-athletes, coaches and support personnel, game officials, medical personnel, limited institutional personnel, law enforcement, a limited number of photographers and contracted radio/TV personnel, and other limited personnel essential to the execution of the game.
All individuals with access to the team bench area must participate in the SEC COVID-19 testing protocol.
In football, where stadium capacities are reduced if fan attendance is permitted, the host institution shall provide the visiting institution a minimum of 500 tickets located in the lower level of the stadium. The visiting institution may be provided more or less than these 500 tickets upon mutual agreement of both institutions.
Bands will be restricted from performing on the field before games and at halftime. The policy will be revised during the year based on developments around COVID-19.
Where stadium capacities are reduced if fan attendance is permitted, visiting team bands and spirit squads shall be prohibited from attending games at SEC stadiums; SEC institutions shall have the discretion on whether their band and/or spirit squad attends a conference (SEC vs SEC) neutral site game.
On-field performances, presentations and recognitions shall be prohibited including, but not limited to, sponsor and donor recognitions and athletic department student-athlete and team recognitions.
Home institutions are required to disinfect home and visiting team spaces prior to each game utilizing approved disinfectants. These spaces shall include the locker rooms, coaches’ rooms, training rooms, sidelines, coaches’ booths and any additional areas provided to either team. The visiting team shall be allowed to further disinfect its spaces utilizing approved disinfectants after receiving approval from the home team’s facility staff on the disinfectants it desires to use. Upon completion of disinfection, the spaces and equipment must be locked down until the teams are granted initial access on Thursday or Friday prior to game day. Once both teams have accessed their spaces, only team staff are allowed inside the spaces and no outside individuals, including television personnel, are allowed access.
Press box seating capacity shall be no more than 50% of current seating availability in the press box, and all individuals in the press box shall wear a face covering. If required by national, state and/or local guidelines, the press box seating capacity shall be less than 50% of the current seating available in accordance with the national, state and/or local guidelines.
Post-game press conferences will be conducted virtually.
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